It is kind of surprising that considering how big I am on pregnancy preparation and the fact that my blog was born out of trying to prepare to conceive, I don’t have a comprehensive PRE-PREGNANCY CHECK LIST.
There is a page with the links to posts where I detailed my personal experience, but I would like to do more of a straight forward preparation check list for people who are just getting into it.
PRE-PREGNANCY CHECK LIST
(these type of disclosures crack me up but I’ll do it, because “2015 is the year America got offended by everything” )
Please note that this list includes everything that I could think of. Everyone choses to do things in their own way, so feel free to make your own list taking items you like from my list. If you would like to read about my story going through the check list, please visit my pre-pregnancy page with a recap if my preparations for TTC.
There are a lot of aspects to preparing for a successful healthy pregnancy and going off of old wives’ tales is no longer the norm. Science has come so far with the studies and ability to understand human body, why not take advantage of the knowledge out there. As long as you can approach it with a cool head, you can gather a lot of useful information from a handful of book I am about to recommend.
If you were going to read ONE book before going on your TTC journey, I would absolutely urge you to read this one:
While you still have time to improve your fitness level, see where you stack up. Even if you’re the fittest person you know, you might be surprised that there are certain parts of your body that need work. Obviously PC muscles are usually one of the neglected muscle groups that often needs improvement. When I did the test, I aced everything BUT my ankles and my PC muscles. So I knew to focus on those in my preparation. Believe it or not, you’re very prone to ankle injuries when pregnant, so strengthening those muscles isn’t anything to laugh at.
You can take the test I took here:
PRE-PREGNANCY FITNESS TEST HERE
Vitamins and Supplements
I don’t need to preach about the importance of vitamins and supplements during pregnancy. However what about BEFORE you conceive? Actually, making sure that your body has a good store of certain minerals and vitamins can be crucial to the success and health of your future child. While all supplements are important, here are 4 supplements you need to pay special attention to BEFORE you start TTC:
Iron: It is crucial to go into pregnancy with adequate stores of iron, because it will help you avoid a deficiency later on. Take iron with vit C for better absorption.
Zinc (for men): sperm health and production is dependent on zinc ( and selenium) so make sure your guy takes his mineral supplements. Do not take extra zinc without copper as it is easy to disrupt the balance of those two minerals.
Folic Acid: I very much doubt anyone out there is unaware of the importance of folic acid supplementation BEFORE conception, but just in case… Folic acid prevents a huge percentage of neural tube defects and since the neural tube develops BEFORE most women even know they are pregnant and start supplementing, it’s important to start supplementing with folic acid 3 months before possible conception. There are studies out there that show that supplementing that far out have a sort of cumulative protective effect.
DHA: DHA is a fatty acids that are responsible for myelanation of the neural pathways in a developing brain. The better the myelantion, the faster the signals travel between nuerons. So in a nutshell, it is what is going to make your baby smart. 🙂 And there are only 2 ways that an unborn baby can receive DHA for their developing brain: through maternal stores during pregnancy and through breastmilk ( which is again through maternal stores). What that means is that your baby will be dependent on your stores of DHA for its brain development. Luckily, DHA sticks around in our body for a bit, so start loading up on that fatty low in mercury fish ( sardines, herring, salmon) or better yet, take DHA supplements (no more than 4g a day. Recommended dose is 1g).
And as always, exercise caution when taking supplements, consult your doctor, and remember that I am not a physician and this isn’t medical advice.
This for me was as simple as paying closer attention to my food, drinking a lot of water and cessation of any kind of unhealthy habits. Alcohol, smoking, fast food, bad meats, high pesticide foods, coffee- all go into this category.
Some people go as far as heavy metal chelation, which is very commendable, but most likely unrealistic for the majority of people.
Maternity Health Insurance
Strangely one of the most neglected steps, but so so important from the financial standpoint. Make sure pregnancy and delivery is covered on your health insurance plan. As sad as it is, that is never a given in the United States. I have had far too many friends who realized that their health insurance doesn’t provide for maternity coverage and have had to pay thousands of dollars for delivery. Considering this is a relatively easy step to take to prevent lots of medical bills, it goes on my MUST DO check list. We ended up paying only $300 out of pocket for all the medical expenses connected with pregnancy and delivery. You can read more about my process:
Pre-conception check up
I remember when I went to my first doctor for a pre-conception check up, he told me I didn’t need one. So I switched doctors, because any medical professional, who doesn’t believe in being proactive about one’s health or health of one’s baby, isn’t someone I want to advise me. My new OBGYN went through all the testing with me:
std tests, antibody tests, blood work, deficiency tests, infection tests, body fitness and BMI.
There are certain viruses and vaccinations that are not advised during pregnancy. Considering that a pregnant immune system is supressed, you are more likely to get infected with a virus you would otherwise be able to fight off and since a lot of those infections are detrimental to a developing fetus, it is smart to vaccinate yourself against them, if you hadn’t been vaccinated in childhood. You can read more about my process here: VACCINATION AND TESTING
OBGYN and hospital interviews
Delivering a baby is such a personal, vulnerable event that chosing the right doctor and hospital to lead your through the process is an important step. You have to make sure you are comfortable with their staff, with the location since you’ll be seeing them often, find out what happens if YOUR doctor is off at the time of onset of labor.My OB was phenomental: supportive, respectful, understanding, he fielded all my numerous questions, discussed every aspect in detail, advised me on aspects I needed advice on and back off on items that I felt strongly about. He was gentle but firm during delivery, getting all “doctor-y” on me when he needed to and being supportive when I needed him to be. Read more here:
Wisdom Teeth Extraction and Dental work
Unexpected item on a pre-conception check list, huh? I feel very strongly about this one. My wisdom teeth were impacted. Which means there was a pathway for germs to enter and my wisdom teeth to get infected during pregnancy because the immune system isn’t capable of fighting off infections, as well as needed during that time. Not only is ANY infection in the body not good for a fetus, but if you wisdom teeth get infected, that means you need to take them out. And it is done under anesthesia or by taking strong painkillers, neither of which should be done during pregnancy, if it’s possible to avoid. Same goes for root canals or any other dental issues. Get your teeth checked out. Gingivitis should be taken care of BEFORE pregnancy.
This is not something I was aware of when I was getting ready for pregnancy. My family didn’t have any genetic conditions that I needed to worry about, so I never even gave it another thought. But learning more about genetic testing through Natera in the last year, I realized how terrifying it might be for a person, whose family member had one of those recessive genetic conditions, they are trying to avoid passing down to their child. Not knowing if you’re a carrier, if your husband is a carrier is terrifying . Knowledge is power. It gives you the option to make decisions based on facts, not just on faith alone. It puts you in a driver’s seat.
If you have someone in the family who is affected or you are yourself affected, this might be of huge importance to you. Horizon genetic carrier screening can help parents understand their chances of having a child with a specific genetic disease before or during pregnancy so they can plan ahead. It is surprising to learn that it is common for people to be carriers of 4-6 different recessive genetic conditions. If you and your partner are carriers of the same condition, you have a 1 in 4 chances of having an affected child. Horizon genetic screening can make sure that there is early detection and proper prenatal care for affected babies. Find a provider for Horizon here.
While this post is sponsored and written on behalf of Natera, all of the opinions, words and above research is 100% my own.